Two train drivers of the United National Transport Union (UNTU) were attacked and their train cabins stoned, by furious commuters at the Koedoespoort Station in Pretoria, after Metrorail trains of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) were delayed.
Both experienced train drivers told Steve Harris, General Secretary of the Union, how they feared for their lives and the lives of two students who were with them in their cabins, being trained.
“The commuters put boulders in front of the train, took off the stone guard and continued to stone the cabin. I managed to phone the train control officer and informed him that we were going to die if I were not allowed to continue with the shattered windscreen. The glass and stones were raining down on us,” says Kgaripane Mogashoa (42).
She was on her way from Pienaarspoort to Pretoria but had to stop at a red signal in Koedoespoort.
According to her the student was hysterical and screaming. After she was authorised to continue the route, she was afraid that she might derail the train as she had to move the boulders that was placed in front of the train, out of the way using the train.
“I was totally stressed out, but I knew I had to get the commuters inside the train and the student to safety, even though I was bleeding where the glass cut me. I managed to get to the Pretoria station where I reported the incident. The student and I are receiving counselling today,” Mogashoa told Harris.
She was also the train driver of a train that was torched by angry commuters two years ago in Centurion.
UNTU train driver, Francois Herselman (53) told Harris that he was on route to Pretoria-North when his safe guard was taken off and his cabin was stoned at the Koedoespoort station. The window shattered, but Herselman was not injured.
“Commuters were threatening to kill me and the student. It was terrible. I kept on wondering what was going to happen next,” he says.
He was also the train driver of a train that commuters tried to hijack a few months ago at the Koedoespoort Station.
“Commuters are getting extremely violent towards train crews in recent months. I love my job, but I never know when things will turn for the worst while I am on duty,” says this father of three and grandfather of four.
Harris says that UNTU demand that PRASA must implement the drastic security measures, which has now been implemented on the notorious Central Line in the Western Cape after the services were suspended for the past five weeks, on all the railway lines.
“Unfortunately, PRASA and the South African Police Service (SAPS) has allowed the railway line to become such a warzone that drastic expensive measures are needed nationwide to bring back law and order to our passenger railway system,” says Harris.
For more information phone Harris on 082 566 5516.